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  • Author or Editor: Roberto Lopez x
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Flowering potted orchids has become one of the largest segments of floriculture worldwide. Large-scale production of cuts or potted plants exists in China, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. Despite the value of orchids, the flowering physiology of most orchid genera is not well described. Therefore, scheduling flowering crops for specific market dates (such as Easter or Mother's Day) is not possible for most genera. This paper summarizes world orchid production and reviews how environmental factors regulate growth and flowering of several commercially important orchid genera: Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Miltoniopsis, Phalaenopsis, and Zygopetalum. These genera primarily flower in response to relatively low temperatures, and, for some species and hybrids, flowering is promoted when the plants are also exposed to short photoperiods. Effects of light and temperature on growth and development are summarized for these genera, and implications for controlled production are discussed.

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Miltoniopsis orchids have appealing potted-plant characteristics, including large, fragrant, and showy pansylike flowers that range from white and yellow to shades of red and purple. Scheduling orchid hybrids to flower on specific dates requires knowledge of how light and temperature regulate the flowering process. We performed experiments to determine whether a 9- or 16-h photoperiod [short day (SD) or long day (LD)] before vernalization and vernalization temperatures of 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, or 23 °C under SD or LD regulate flowering of potted Miltoniopsis orchids. Flowering of Miltoniopsis Augres `Trinity' was promoted most when plants were exposed to SD and then vernalized at 11 or 14 °C. Additional experiments were performed to determine how durations of prevernalization SD and vernalization at 14 °C influenced flowering of Miltoniopsis Augres `Trinity' and Eastern Bay `Russian'. Plants were placed under SD or LD at 20 °C for 0, 4, 8, 12, or 16 weeks and then transferred to 14 °C under SD for 8 weeks. Another set of plants was placed under SD or LD at 20 °C for 8 weeks and then transferred to 14 °C with SD for 0, 3, 6, 9, or 12 weeks. After treatments, plants were grown in a common environment at 20 °C with LD. Flowering of Miltoniopsis Augres `Trinity' was most complete and uniform (≥90%) when plants were exposed to SD for 4 or 8 weeks before 8 weeks of vernalization at 14 °C. Flowering percentage of Miltoniopsis Eastern Bay `Russian' was ≥80 regardless of prevernalization photoperiod or duration. This information could be used by greenhouse growers and orchid hobbyists to more reliably induce flowering of potted Miltoniopsis orchids.

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In 2003, commercial greenhouse growers in the United States imported 724 million nonrooted cuttings valued at $53 million. During transit and storage, cuttings can be exposed to environmental stresses (e.g., low or high temperature), which can consequently decrease quality, rooting, and subsequent plant performance. We performed experiments to quantify how temperature and storage duration of cuttings influence root initiation, root number, lateral branch count and length, and time to flower of Tiny Tunia `Violet Ice' petunia (Petunia × hybrida hort. Vilm. -Andr.). Dry or wet cuttings were harvested and packaged into perforated bags within small, ventilated boxes and then into traditional shipping boxes. The boxes were placed in environmental chambers with temperature setpoints of 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 °C for 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 d. Cuttings were then rooted in a propagation house at 26 °C with a vapor pressure deficit of 0.3 kPa under ambient photo-periods. The visual quality rating of dry packaged cuttings decreased with increasing temperature and shipping duration. After 2 d at ≥25 °C, cuttings were horticulturally unacceptable due to water stress and chlorophyll degradation and they never fully recovered. Dry- or wet-packaged cuttings held at temperatures of 0 to 30 °C formed significantly fewer roots and lateral branches as duration increased from 1–5 d. Although cuttings held for 5 d at 0 °C produced 60% fewer lateral branches, they subsequently flowered 5 d earlier than plants held at 0 °C for 1 d. Therefore, exposure to temperatures >15 °C for ≥3 d can reduce petunia cutting quality, delay rooting, and decrease plant size at flowering.

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Increasing photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) by supplementing with high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps during propagation has been shown to enhance photosynthesis and biomass accumulation of cuttings. The development of high-intensity light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is a promising technology with potential as a greenhouse supplemental lighting source. Our objective was to quantify the impact of narrow spectra supplemental lighting from LEDs on growth, morphology, and gas exchange of cuttings compared with traditional HPS supplemental lighting. Cuttings of Impatiens hawkeri W. Bull ‘Celebrette Frost’, Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey ‘Designer Bright Red’, and Petunia ×hybrida Vilm. ‘Suncatcher Midnight Blue’ were received from a commercial propagator and propagated in a glass-glazed greenhouse at 23 °C air and substrate temperature set points. After callusing (≈5 mol·m−2·d−1 for 7 days), cuttings were placed under 70 μmol·m−2·s−1 delivered from HPS lamps or LED arrays with varying proportions (%) of red:blue light (100:0, 85:15, or 70:30). After 14 days under supplemental lighting treatments, growth, morphology, and gas exchange of rooted cuttings were measured. There were no significant differences among Impatiens and Pelargonium cuttings grown under different supplemental light sources. However, compared with cuttings propagated under HPS lamps, stem length of Petunia cuttings grown under 100:0 red:blue LEDs was 11% shorter, whereas leaf dry mass, root dry mass, root mass ratios, and root:shoot ratio of cuttings grown under 70:30 red:blue LEDs were 15%, 36%, 17%, and 24% higher, respectively. Supplemental light source had minimal impact on plants after transplant. Our data suggest that LEDs are suitable replacements for HPS lamps as supplemental light sources during cutting propagation.

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A majority of commercial propagation of herbaceous ornamental cuttings occurs during the winter when the photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) is relatively low. We quantified how the mean DLI influenced rooting and subsequent growth and development of two popular vegetatively propagated species, New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri Bull.) and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida hort. Vilm.-Andr.). Three cultivars of each species were propagated under a mean DLI ranging from 1.2 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1. Cuttings were rooted in a controlled greenhouse environment maintained at 24 to 25 °C with overhead mist, a vapor-pressure deficit of 0.3 kPa, and a 12-h photoperiod. Rooting and growth evaluations of cuttings were made after 8 to 16 d. In a separate experiment, rooted cuttings under DLI treatments were then transplanted into 10-cm containers and grown in a common greenhouse at 21 ± 2 °C under a 16-h photoperiod to identify any residual effects on subsequent growth and development. In both species, rooting, biomass accumulation, and quality of cuttings increased and subsequent time to flower generally decreased as mean propagation DLI increased. For example, root number of petunia ‘Tiny Tunia Violet Ice’ after 16 days of propagation increased from 17 to 40 as the propagation DLI increased from 1.2 to 7.5 mol·m−2·d−1. In addition, cutting shoot height decreased from 6.3 to 4.5 cm, and root and shoot dry biomass of cuttings harvested after 16 days of propagation increased by 737% and 106%, respectively. Subsequent time to flower for ‘Tiny Tunia Violet Ice’ from the beginning of propagation decreased from 50 to 29 days as propagation DLI increased from 1.4 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1 regardless of the DLI provided after propagation. In New Guinea impatiens ‘Harmony White’, root and shoot dry weight of cuttings increased by 1038% and 82%, respectively, and subsequent time to flower decreased from 85 to 70 days as the propagation DLI increased from 1.2 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1. These experiments quantify the role of the photosynthetic DLI during propagation on the rooting and subsequent growth and development of vegetatively propagated herbaceous ornamental cuttings.

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Prohexadione-Ca (ProCa) is a relatively new plant growth regulator (PGR) that inhibits internode length in rice, small grains, and fruit trees. However, little is known about its efficacy and potential phytotoxicity on floriculture crops and how it compares to other commercially available PGR chemicals. The effects of two foliar spray applications (2 weeks apart) of ProCa (500, 1000, or 2000 ppm), paclobutrazol (30 ppm), or a tank mix of daminozide plus chlormequat (2500 and 1000 ppm, respectively) were quantified on Dianthus barbatus L. `Interspecific Dynasty Red', Ageratina altissima R. King & H. Robinson (Eupatorium rugosum) `Chocolate', Lilium longiflorum Thunb. `Fangio', and Buddleia davidii Franch. `Mixed.' All plants were forced in a glass-glazed greenhouse with a constant temperature setpoint of 20 °C under a 16-h photoperiod. Two weeks after the second spray application of ProCa at 500, 1000, or 2000 ppm, plant height of Dianthus and Lilium was shorter than control plants by 56%, 60%, and 65% and by 6%, 26%, and 28%, respectively. However, ProCa bleached and reduced the size of Dianthus flowers. ProCa at 2000 ppm and daminozide plus chlormequat were effective at controlling the height of Eupatorium (64% and 53% reduction, respectively); however, leaves of Eupatorium were discolored and showed symptoms of phytotoxicity 1 week after the first ProCa application. Only daminozide plus chlormequat were effective on Buddleia. ProCa is an effective PGR for most of the crops we tested; however, its discoloration of red flowers and foliage may limit its application for commercial use.

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The vegetatively propagated `Fire Kiss' clone of the hybrid Zygopetalum Redvale orchid has appealing potted-plant characteristics, including fragrant flowers that are waxy lime-green and dark maroon with a broad, three-lobed, magenta and white labellum. We performed experiments to quantify how temperature influenced leaf unfolding and expansion, time from visible inflorescence to flower, and longevity of individual flowers and inflorescences. Plants were grown in controlled-environment chambers with constant temperature set points of 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, and 29 °C and an irradiance of 150 μmol·m-2·s-1 for 9 h·d-1. As actual temperature increased from 14 to 25 °C, the time to produce one leaf decreased from 46 to 19 days. Individual plants were also transferred from a greenhouse to the chambers on the date that an inflorescence was first visible or the first flower of an inflorescence opened. Time from visible inflorescence to open flower decreased from 73 days at 14 °C to 30 days at 26 °C. As temperature increased from 14 to 29 °C, flower and inflorescence longevity decreased from 37 and 38 days to 13 and 15 days, respectively. Data were converted to rates, and thermal time models were developed to predict time to flower and senescence at different temperatures. The base temperature was estimated at 6.2 °C for leaf unfolding, 3.5 °C for time to flower, and 3.7 °C for flower longevity. These models could be used by greenhouse growers to more accurately schedule Zygopetalum flowering crops for particular market dates.

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Heating accounts for up to 30% of total operating costs for greenhouse operations in northern latitudes. Growers often lower air temperatures for production to reduce energy costs; however, this causes delays in development even in cold-tolerant crops, such as petunia (Petunia ×hybrida). This delay increases production time and can reduce profitability. Recent studies on low air temperature bedding plant production indicate petunia as a strong potential candidate for using lower air temperatures in combination with bench-top root-zone heating (RZH) to avoid or reduce delays in development. The objectives of this study were to 1) quantify time to flower (TTF) of seven petunia cultivars and two recombinant inbred lines (RILs) when the mean daily air temperature (MDT) was lowered by 5 °C and bench-top RZH was used and 2) determine if a high-quality petunia crop can be produced on RZH. Petunia ‘Sun Spun Burgundy’, ‘Sun Spun Lavender Star’, ‘Sanguna Patio Red’, ‘Potunia Plus Red’, ‘Potunia Plus Purple’, ‘Supertunia Red’, ‘Supertunia Bordeaux’, and two RILs, IA160 and IA349, were grown in a greenhouse with an MDT of 15 °C without RZH or with a RZH set point of 21, 24, or 27 °C. Additionally, a commercial control (CC) was established by growing plants without RZH at an MDT of 20 °C. All plants were grown under a 16-hour photoperiod to provide a daily light integral (DLI) of ≈12 mol·m−2·d−1. Time to flower was shorter at higher RZH set points. For example, TTF of ‘Potunia Plus Red’ was 56, 52, 49, or 47 days for plants grown at an MDT of 15 °C without RZH, or with RZH set points of 21, 24, or 27 °C, respectively. When a RZH set point of 27 °C was employed, TTF of all cultivars and inbred lines, except ‘Potunia Plus Red’ and ‘Sanguna Patio Red’, was similar to plants grown in the CC. Shorter stem length, lower growth index, and smaller shoot dry mass (SDM) at flowering were observed for plants grown under lower air temperatures with RZH, resulting in a more compact and high-quality plant. Producing a compact plant in a shorter time period is beneficial for growers; thus, results suggest that MDT can be lowered to 15 °C for petunia production when a RZH set point of 27 °C is employed.

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The influence of pre-plant bulb dips in paclobutrazol solutions on final plant height, days to flower, and flower bud number were evaluated for easter lily (Lilium longiflorum). ‘Nellie White’ easter lily bulbs were placed in solutions of paclobutrazol containing 0, 30, 60, or 120 mg·L−1 for 15 min preceding planting. Days to flower and flower bud number were unaffected by paclobutrazol. Plant height at flowering for bulbs dipped in paclobutrazol solutions was 15% to 26% shorter compared with untreated bulbs. Additionally, dipping bulbs in 120 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol resulted in plants that met target height specifications for commercially grown easter lily. Based on these results, dipping easter lily bulbs in paclobutrazol solutions can be an effective strategy for reducing stem elongation without negatively impacting days to flower or flower bud number for commercially grown easter lily.

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Crown division, tissue culture, and culm cuttings are methods for propagating purple fountain grass [Pennisetum ×advena Wipff and Veldkamp (formerly known as Pennisetum setaceum Forsk. Chiov. ‘Rubrum’)]. However, propagation by culm cuttings is becoming an economically attractive method for quick liner production. Our objective was to quantify the impact of propagation daily light integral (PDLI) and root-zone temperature (RZT) on root and culm development of single-internode purple fountain grass culm cuttings. Before insertion into the rooting substrate, cuttings were treated with a basal rooting hormone solution containing 1000 mg·L−1 indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) + 500 mg·L−1 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA). The cuttings were placed in a glass-glazed greenhouse with an air temperature of 23 °C and benches with RZT set points of 21, 23, 25, or 27 °C. PDLIs of 4 and 10 mol·m−2·d−1 (Expt. 1) or 8 and 16 mol·m−2·d−1 (Expt. 2) were provided. After 28 d, culm and root densities (number) increased as the RZT increased from 21 to 27 °C, regardless of PDLI during Expt. 1. Compared with 4 mol·m−2·d−1, a PDLI of 10 mol·m−2·d−1 generally resulted in the greatest root biomass accumulation. For example, as PDLI increased from 4 to 10 mol·m−2·d−1, root dry mass increased by 105%, 152%, and 183% at RZTs of 21, 25, and 27 °C, respectively. In Expt. 2, as the RZT increased from 21 to 23 °C, root dry mass increased by 70% under a PDLI of 8 mol·m−2·d−1. However, root dry mass was similar among all RZTs under a PDLI of 16 mol·m−2·d−1. Our results indicate that single-internode culm cuttings of purple fountain grass can be most efficiently propagated under PDLIs of 8–10 mol·m−2·d−1 together with RZT set points of 23 to 25 °C for quick liner production.

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